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Saturday, April 30, 2005

The birds chirp out love and breath in the universe
They feed on the birdseed provided for them because they have been our father's and mothers.

They are precious gems in the treasure chest of consciousness.

-James

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Friday, April 29, 2005

One person sitting, walking, eating and breathing as a free person can make an impact on the whole environment around him.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Pope Benedict the XVI on Eastern Religions

Special thanks to Bhikkhu's Blog for bringing my attention to this information:

The new Pope, Benedict the XVI, (aka Cardinal Ratzinger) on Buddhism;

In 1997 Ratzinger said that Europeans attracted to Buddhism were actually seeking an "autoerotic spirituality" that offers "transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligations." Hindusim, he said, offers "false hope," in that it guarantees "purification" based on a "morally cruel" concept of reincarnation resembling "a continuous circle of hell." At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic church's main enemy.

Source - Rabbi Lerner at tikkun.org.


Wow, Pope Benedict the XVI!! Now is that really a good way to foster better relations with other religions?? I guess it is lucky for you that Buddhists tend to be easy to forgive and work with, eh?

Buddhists (for the most part) could care less what religion you belong to because in the end it is your individual karma which will decide what happens to you after this life. Buddhists are more concerned about bettering themselves and helping others regardless of religion, race, sex, etc., Buddhists see all religions as adequate vehicles of peace and spiritual progress. One day perhaps the Catholics will agree.

-James

-Peace to us all (Including the Catholics *WINK*)-

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Visualizing Before Touching the Earth

You can't be by yourself. You have to inter-be with everything else.

So before touching the Earth before the Buddha, you have to visualize that you are empty of a separate self, and also that the Buddha is empty of a self. The one who bows and the one who is bowed to are both by nature empty.

Before you bow, you say something like this: "Dear Buddha, I am bowing to you, but I know deeply that I am empty and you are also empty, because you are in me and I am in you. When I am touching the Earth before you, it may look ridiculous. But looking deeply, I see that I bow like this in order to touch you in me, and so that you can touch me in you also.

Suppose you build a hall made of mirrors, and then you enter holding a candle. Looking into a mirror you see you and the candle, and when you turn around you see that each mirror reflects you and the candle in the mirror too. You just need to look into one mirror to see all the reflections of you and the candle. Countless yous and countless candles are reflected in just one mirror.

We all Carry Buddhas Within:
The smallest atom can contain (James: and I would argue does contain) the whole cosmos.
You know the human body is made of cells, and now science has declared that cloning is possible. From one cell they can duplicate the whole body. How is it possible? Because one cell contains the totality of the genetic heritage of that person. If not, how could we, from one cell, bring the whole body into full manifestation? So current science has proved not only in theory but in practice that, in the one you touch the all.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

The Power of Visualization.
From talks given June 11 and June 14, 2004
The Feet of the Buddha Retreat, Plum Village

*sigh* Interbeing.

I bow to the Buddha within you, as I bow to the you in me and the me in you.

-Peace to us all-

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Do Not Seek

A buddha is one who does not seek. In seeking this, you turn away from it. The principle is the principle of nonseeking; when you seek it, you lose it.

-Pai-chang

From "Teachings of Zen", edited by Thomas Cleary, © 1998. By arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston, www.shambhala.com.

This is such a great reminder for me that to seek things such as "enlightenment" is like chasing the wind. Nonseeking to me is to be mindful that "enlightenment" and lasting peace is already within us. We have to just open our eyes, see it and just be.

-Peace to you all-

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

This Fleeting World

Thus shall ye think of this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud;
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

-Diamond Sutra

This past weekend was my second time with the Sangha and Lori attended with me. She really enjoyed it and I think that she will keep going with me. I too enjoyed it as I did the last time. It really is amazing how beneficial a Sangha can be once you find the right one.

We also had a lovely weekend up in the mountains staying at a friends cabin in Estes Park. Here are some pictures from our little retreat:


This is the friend's cabin where we stay now and then.


Another view.


Yet another view.


Snoozing with a Corona.


Near by peak.


Look close and you'll see Big Horn Sheep. They blend right in with those rocks.


Young male Elk standing right outside the cabin.


Young male Elk standing right outside the window!

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

A psychotic drowns in the very same stuff a mystic swims in.

Pema Chodron

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Idea of Karma

People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That's not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn't understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you're given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.

It's also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that's sitting right here right now... with its aches and it pleasures... is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.

Pema Chodron

These jems of wisdom came at the perfect moment. As they say, when the student is ready the teacher appears. Well, I have been feeling guilty about a lot of things lately and these comments by the dear Pema Chodron have helped me realize that our faults help us grow and to not "beat myself up" over them as that just creates more negative karma.

We are spending the weekend up in the mountains at a friends cabin and only came down to get a few more things. It is so quiet, peaceful and beautiful up there. Hopefully should have some pictures to share.

-Peace to you all-

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Live in the Now

Buddha said:

"Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is
in the very here and now,
the practitioner dwells
in stability and freedom."

-Peace to you all-

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Butterflies, Flowers and Garbage



Took this picture on our walk around the local hospital. This beautiful, blooming tree was full of these soft, fluttering butterflies and so I decided to return with my camera and snap some pictures. The butterfly is so delicate and beautiful and yet it's life span is so short. This reminds me that everything (no matter how beautiful) will pass away and that makes the beauty of the butterfly that much more precious.

The sweet smells of these little flowers was so delightful it is no wonder that these trees were swarmed by these wonderful, little creatures. Their attraction to these flowers also reminded me off our interconnected nature and it made me smile.

So I thought I would share these pictures and thoughts with you.

I also thought I would share a couple of quotes with you:

Let us not talk of karma, but simply of responsibility toward the whole world.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama, "Imagine All the People"

Copyright Wisdom Publications 2001. Reprinted from "Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations," edited by Josh Bartok, with permission of Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm St., Somerville MA 02144 U.S.A, www.wisdompubs.org.


Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us.

-Pema Chodron

This reminds me of what I heard Thich Nhat Hanh say last night in his Dharma talk (we ordered a couple of his talks from Deer Park) on "The Four Noble Truths." To put it short, he mentions how we can not have flowers without garbage and gabage without flowers. So, we should not beat ourselves up over the garbage in our life but instead use it to grow flowers! :)


-Peace to you all-

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Tulips on a Rainy Day



Some people do not like rain but I find it to be very refreshing. It cleans the Earth and I also look at it as a chance to clean our hearts too. The rain is symbolic of washing away our attachments and suffering.

These flowers were just outside the parking lot of my bank and I thought they looked so beautiful on this raining day. They are a wonderful symbol of the beautiful and yet fleeting nature of our own lives.

I hope this picture brings a smile to your face and heart and that you are having a wonderful day.

-Peace to you all-

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Become the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha

Today's entry comes from the Summer 2004 Mindfulness Bell: A Journal of the Art of Mindful Living. This is an excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh's Dharma talk titled, "Take Refudge in Your In-Breath" addressing the retreat Sangha. It is a commentary on the teachings of Master Linji.
Linji, is Buddhist monk from ninth-century China. The TNH lineage descends from Master Linji.

In the records of Master Linji it says, "The practioners of our time do not succeed because they do not have faith in themselves. They are always looking outside." They think that they can get compassion and wisdom from the Buddha, from the Dharma, from the Sangha outside of themselves. They don't know that they are the Buddha, they are the Dharma, and they are the Sangha. They should allow themselves to become the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. They should allow the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha to become themselves. This is the teaching of Master Linji.

People like to say, take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, take refuge in the Sangha. But, I like to say, take refuge in your in-breath, take refuge in your out-breath, take refuge in your steps. The Buddha may be an abstract idea, but your in-breath is a reality, your steps are a reality. You are looking for the Buddha, you are looking for the Dharma. You are not truly taking refuge in them because you have not found them. But you don't have to look for your in-breath; it is right there in front of your nose. You don't have to look for your steps; they are right there in your feet. That is why taking refuge in your in-breath, taking refuge in your steps is very concrete. When you are doing that the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha become concrete also. You don't have to run after the Buddha; the Buddha will run to you. You don't have to look for the Dharma; the Dharma will come to you.

-Peace to you All-

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

"The Corporation"

I'm writing about this movie on all my blogs but I want to kind of take a different angle with it here.

It is a movie which shows how multi-national corporations have been throwing off the balance in the environment and human life for awhile now. Not to mention an erosion of democracy and the rise instead of corporate domination of human life. We as humans have become hypnotized by the slick advertising campaigns of the corporations and have lost touch with the balance of life.

Anyway, as an engaged Buddhist I find this movie to be very important and critical in this modern day of ecological disasters and troubling depletion of the sanctity of human and other animal life/rights.

I highly recommend watching this movie.

We can not afford to bury our heads in the sand any longer.

Action must be taken to reclaim the balance of all things.


-Peace to you all-

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Saturday, April 16, 2005


Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama. Two jewels sharing a precious moment and shining through the night of samsara to help led us with their light. Posted by Hello

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Learn From Our Enemies Especially

If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.

Pema Chodron


This is SO true.
It is easy to open our hearts to those who are like us, agree with us and love us back. However, the real lessons come when we open our hearts to our enemies. Jesus said to love your enemy and to turn the other cheek. Our "enemies" teach us some of your most important lessons. We should try and learn to look at people who annoy us and anger us as people sent to us via our own karma to teach us a vital lesson. It's like lifting weights which cause our muscles pain. That is when you gain the most muscle.

-Peace to you all-

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

All in the Same Boat

We feel we're supposed to be better than we are in some way. But with this practice you take yourself completely as you are. Then ironically, taking in pain - breathing it in for yourself and all others in the same boat as you are - heightens your awareness of exactly where you're stuck.

Pema Chodron

This is an important thing for me to remember. I often think that I have to be perfect in my practice and that everyone else is further along then I am. This is my ego jumping and mucking things up. Everyone is at a different point in their practice but we are all struggling against the ego on some level. It is important to accept yourself the way that you are so that you can relate to others and their struggles as we discussed yesterday. Knowing that everyone is struggling does indeed allow me to look more clearly into my own practice and see what catches me the most often.

This is one of the reasons why I think that the sangha is so important. It allows us to exchange experiences and help each other remove the blocks in our way. Where I have a weakness someone may have a strength and vice versa.

We can not advance very far in our practice alone.

-Peace to you all-

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Avoid the Holes and Walk Down a Different Street

Yesterday was an "off" day to say the least (go to my other blog for the full story).

I realized today though that it is in these "off" days when our understanding of suffering really comes into context.

I had to honestly look at things and realize that living with suffering is part of our journey here in samsara.

And that a big part of over-coming suffering is an acceptance of the first noble truth.

Suffering is inevitable.

This is not just something we need to memorize and spout off like the good students that we try to be but we need to honestly understand this in our hearts. Only then can we honestly hope to over-come it.

So today I accept my suffering and embrace it.

I will not run from it or try to think that it is not real or important.

It is very real and very important to understand.

This is the only to truly make any progress toward avoiding the suffering that is so often attached to the human experience.

We will always run into things that will through us off from our normal activities but the key is to not accept them and take them on as suffering.

This reminds me off a story:

A man walks down a street and falls in a deep hole. Angry he pulls himself out of the hole and walks on thinking how aweful it is that someone has not filled up that hole.

the next day he walks down the same street and because he is so absorbed with being angry and blaming everyone he can think of for not filling the hole he falls in it again!

This goes on for sevaral days and the man soon accumulates several wounds from falling in this hole.

Well, finally he realizes to just concentrate on walking around the hole instead of worrying about who's to blame for the hole.

This goes on for several days more and finally he comes to the realization to walk down a different street entirely.

So, there are always going to be "bad days" and "holes" in our path but the key is to learn where those holes are ahead of time so that we can learn to avoid them and take a different path entirely.

I am working on that in my life and I thought I'd share this lesson I am learning as I go along.

I am far from not falling in every hole I come across but I am learning to avoid them and hopefully I will learn to find streets that do not have any holes at all.

Plus, I have not been meditating the last few days and I can definately notice a difference.

I am getting back on track today.

UPDATE: Special thanks to "me" who pointed out that not only should I avoid the "holes" but that I should also fill up the holes and put up signs to help others avoid these "holes." I think that is what the Buddha has done for us with giving us the Dharma.

I think that the Dharma helps fill in these "holes" and puts up warning signs for others.

Thanks for commenting "me."

-James

-Peace to you all-

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Dalai Lama Calls For the End of The Death Penalty


Thanks to The Buddhist Channel for this story.

The Dalai Lama is calling for the abolition of the death penalty.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama called on Saturday for the abolition of the death penalty and a revamp of centuries of academic-centered thinking on education to build a more "warm-hearted" world.

On the second day of a visit to Japan which has been condemned by China, the Dalai Lama told a crowd of hundreds in Tokyo that criminals should be treated with "compassion, not anger."

"Criminals, people who commit crimes, usually society rejects these people," the Buddhist monk said in a sumo wrestling arena rearranged for his address.

"They are also part of society. Give them some form of punishment to say they were wrong, but show them they are part of society and can change. Show them compassion," he said.

Thank all that is good that the Dalai Lama is out front on issues like this and reminding humanity to be compassionate to all sentient beings.

Maintaining the death penalty stains us just as much as it stains the prisoner. It reminds me of a bumper sticker that says,

"Why do we kill people to show other people that killing is wrong?"

I am so pleased that the Dalai Lama and other Buddhists such as Thich Nhat Hanh are out there speaking out on compassion to all beings.

-Peace to you all- Posted by Hello

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Spring Snow Storm: Sangha report


Colorado received a typical wet, spring snow storm today and it really reminded me about the changing nature of everything. Just when we think that spring time has arrived we get reminded that anything can happen through 6 inches of snow.

I blew off some steam shoveling the drive way and the 2 other drive ways in our triplex.

I then went up to sit with the Peaceful Heart Sangha in Fort Collins and it was such a wonderful, peaceful experience.

I have visited with one other sangha before this one and that one just didn't feel right.

This one, however, felt like I had returned home.

It was nice to connect with a family of other Buddhists in person.

-Peace to you all.- Posted by Hello

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Sangha

Tomorrow I am going to visit a sangha in the style of Thich Nhat Hanh and I am excited but nervous at the same time.

Having grown up Mormon I am a little leary of attaching myself again to a "religious community." I had another bad experience when my wife and I visited a strict Soto/Rinzai combined Zen sangha.

We just were not ready for it.

This sangha, however, sounds like it has a good balance between structure and relaxation.

I'll let you all know how it goes tomorrow evening.

-Peace to you all-

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Friday, April 08, 2005

We Need to Abandon the Clutter in Our Lives

Whatever is not yours, abandon it. When you have abandoned it, that will lead to your welfare and happinesss.

-Buddha, "Connected Discourses of the Buddha"

Copyright Wisdom Publications 2001. Reprinted from "Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations," edited by Josh Bartok, with permission of Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm St., Somerville MA 02144 U.S.A, www.wisdompubs.org.

I really like this quote.
It reminds of how we tend to acquire "things" thinking that they will make us happy but sooner of later we inevitably loose interest in them and they just cluter up our houses. We need to realize remind ourselves that "stuff" (whether material or emotional) will never provide us with long-lasting happiness or peace. This also reminds me that Thich Nhat Hanh lives in a very modest cabin in France without much "stuff."

What a great example, don't ya think?

Speaking of cluter, I need to do some "spring cleaning" and clean out the junk we have amassed throughout the winter.

Peace to you all.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Three Breaths

Breathing is such an important aspect to meditation to help us relax and settle into mindfulness. However, often we can not meditate. For whatever reason we are not in a position to sit on the cushion and do formal meditation.

I have learned something very simple and yet very powerful in helping us relax when we are driving in the car, sitting at work, etc.

Take three deep breaths and then exhale slowly. You will find that your whole body will relax and you'll feel more mindful and present in the moment. Sometimes I even close my eyes and visualize something relaxing like a Carribean beach. Although, if you are driving for example that is not the best idea. Hehe.

Anyway, give it a try and I bet that it will work for you.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Buddhist Prayers

May all be free from sorrow,
and the causes of sorrow,
May all never be separated
from the sacred happiness
which is sorrowless.

-Buddhist prayer

*As a Buddhist, I have been wondering how I could offer a prayer to set my mind before eating food and found a couple offered by Thich Nhat Hanh:

-This food is the gift of the whole universe-the Earth, the sky and much hard work. May we live in a way that makes us worthy to receive it. May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially our greed. May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness we. We accept this food so that we may realize the path of practice.

-Many beings are struggling for food today.
I pray that they all may have enough to eat.

*You could word it anyway that you like but I thought that I would post these to give a basic framework for those interested.

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Fleeting Nature of Life

I've been watching this coverage on the death of the Pope and it brings me to ponder and meditate of the fragile nature of life. Even the greatest spiritual leaders are not immune to the impermanence of death. It is a stark reminder to live life in a way that one is ready to face death in any moment and die the way that we have lived.

With each breath we live and with each exhale we die.

Change is inevitable and allows us chances to grow and reach ever closer to pure, constant and peaceful enlightenment.

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Cling to Nothing. Even Teachings.

O monks, even if you have insight that is pure and clear but you cling to it, fondle it and treasure it, depend on it and are attached to it, then you do not understand that the teaching is like a raft that carries you across the water to the farther shore but is then to be put down and not clung to.

-Majjhima Nikaya
From "Buddha Speaks," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Boston, www.shambhala.com.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

The Present Tense


Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

Shakyamuni Buddha

-This reminds me of something I heard once about surfing. How if you ride on the back or the front of the wave you will crash but if you ride on the constantly rolling and present crest of the wave you will surf the wave all the way into shore. We must ride the crest of our life. That being the present moment. It does us no good to travel into the past or into the future. Be here now and breath. Posted by Hello

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